Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organisation which administers Europe’s contribution to the Iter project, said the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has completed the onsite assembly of nine sectors of the JT-60SA tokamak vacuum vessel for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) under construction at Cadarache in southern France.

The milestone Assemby of the JT-60SA tokamak began in January 2013 and is expected to last six years, including commissioning, which will enable the first plasma to be achieved in March 2019. The vessel, a key part of the machine where the fusion reaction will take place, comprises 10 sectors, each 6.6m high and 3.5m wide, and each weighing around 17t. The sectors have been manufactured by Toshiba as part of JAEA´s contribution to the project.

Key component passes factory acceptance tests

F4E also reported that the European continuous-wave gyrotron prototype, another key Iter component, has passed final factory acceptance tests. The gyrotron is part of Iter’s electron cyclotron heating (ECH) system, one of the three systems that will heat the plasma to the 150 million degrees Celsius required for the fusion reaction. The ECH system provides the heating by transferring the energy from electromagnetic waves into the plasma electrons. The ECH system will be used to start-up every plasma and, in addition, to sustain a longer plasma duration by driving additional current, and improve the plasma confinement as a result of its unique capability to heat very localised parts of the plasma.

Earlier, NRG of the Netherlands and Sweden’s Studsvik had signed a contract to collaborate in the qualification of steel for use in the blanket of the Iter fusion reactor. Under the contract, signed last month, NRG will irradiate specimens of steel in the High Flux Reactor at Petten, with the samples then transported to Studsvik for post-irradiation examination and characterisation.

Photo: Nine sectors of the JT-60SA vacuum vessel assembled and ready for TF coils installation (Source F4E)